No Goodbyes

“I know you want me to get a lil serious about my future but there’s no point making serious plans or worrying too much about it. I’d rather take each day as it comes. Who knows, life just might surprise you one fine day and all those plans go down the drain. So, for now I don’t want to plan anything at all.”

These words have been ringing in my ears since I first got the news. A week ago I lost a very close friend of mine, the same one who said the words above. Life did surprise us by snatching him away but he did live up to his word of living each day to the fullest, to the very last day of his life. This post is for him.

(Please ignore the typos, grammatical errors, disjointed sentences etc, because writing with misty eyes, heavy heart and a blank mind wasn’t easy)

Hey Soaham,

It’s been a week since you left us. Already feels like a lifetime. There were no ‘Hey don’t worry I’m fine’ messages from your end so it means that the news is true. The shock still engulfs me. So does the numbness, anger and the insurmountable sadness. They say that time heals everything, that grief will alleviate with time. All that is bullshit man! Every time I think of the time we spent together, I smile; of the ridiculous things you did, I laugh. Then the realization strikes that it’ll never happen again. That’s when the part of me being unable to breathe comes. The heavy feeling in the heart just won’t go away. I find myself subconsciously taking out my phone to text you. How am I supposed to get over your untimely loss? Time might not be able to heal that. Ever.

I was telling mum today how you made me laugh. I told people that I was glad to have an amazing person like you in my life. But they knew of our friendship from the outside, they never knew what we shared- in those long conversations we had sitting on the sidewalk, walking after dinner on a quiet, rainy midnight joking about how awesome our friendship is to totally overlook the ‘perfectly romantic’ night it otherwise was for the rest of the world (and for all those mushy couples that made us sick to the stomach), waiting overnight in 24-hour restaurant in a station to catch the first train back home with a drunk me, a scared you and the dozens of cops that were around us, and while making serious attempts to study for an exam but getting royally distracted by the music we were listening to, praying hard we clear the exam next day.

There are several instances that just the 2 of us shared and I will hold on to them selfishly. I’m glad no one else shared them and that those memories are something that belong to just us. 2 songs will always remind me of you, because of how those songs came into our lives at the same time. Guess what’s on the playlist, on loop, for the next few days. Remember that ‘lil miss attitude’ tee I had and you called me that even though I absolutely hated that name. I suddenly found it today from some corner of the shelf and I thought of you. And, remember those colorful cheap steel bangles like things you bought me because ‘Alekhya I am sick of those black depressing bands you always wear ya. You are making ME miserable with those, make do with these for now, I’ll get you better ones when I start earning!” I found them the other day and sent you a picture. You were as surprised as me that I still had them. I was surprised that you remembered them at all! Sadly, my wait for the ‘better ones’ have been brought to an unexpected end.

Remember that time when we travelled from Bombay to Pune, me without a confirmed ticket but no one bothered to question us. Our lame idea of pretending to be damn engrossed in talking and exuding a ‘the world ceased to exist’ vibe so that people don’t disturb us or question why we were sitting in their places surprisingly worked for us! We reached Akurdi where the conversation continued because apparently we weren’t done yet. Before we knew it, night fell upon us and I had to get back to the hostel. I was thinking how we managed to talk the entire day and even before I stepped into my room you called up asking the same thing and then we spoke well into the morning. I don’t remember what we spoke about but knowing us it could have been anything from movies, music, politics, history, life, exes, crushes, friends, family, food, animals, roommates, hostel wardens, assassins, pirates, teachers, neighbors, solar system, architecture, learning new cuss words, books, ghosts, bugs, our water-filled college tunnel and god knows what else! Phew…we never ran out of topics right..

That’s the only time ever I spent an entire day, 24 hours straight, with just one person. I didn’t even do that when I was dating someone! You know I’m someone who likes being around a lot of people at all times, but you gave me a first – the first time I was enjoying someone’s company so much that I actually didn’t care about others. No wonder our friendship was so special and people loved what we shared. I don’t know about your friends, but mine definitely did and constantly told me they wished they were friends with someone exactly the way we were.

Now all that is gone. I am here, you are not. And that hurts. Way more than you know. You hated seeing me low, wanted me to live each day to the fullest and led by example. ‘Who knows Aly, Kal ho na ho!” You and your silly movie references! You were the one who said that good times will find me, no matter what. I still cling onto that statement whenever I find myself in tough times. You were the one who held my hand and walked me out a dark place. You stubbornly stuck around even when I pushed you away. I yelled at you, you cracked a mind-numbing joke you knew I would hate and came back anyway. I yelled at you a little more, you remained undeterred. You did this every single day till I got back up on my feet. You saw me through a dark phase and now you left me alone to face this one on my own. Your loss pushed me back into darkness and I can’t see any way out of it…for now at least.

All my friends knew about you as this ‘silly yet awesome friend I have’. Some of my friends, who don’t know you personally, remember you as the younger guy I dated (I hated that tag but unfortunately it stuck around). If only they knew the story behind that too but let’s keep it between us. Funny how you always annoyed the hell out of me to set you up with an elder woman cuz it was a fantasy of yours and eventually that elder girl turned out to be me! “I’m glad it’s you Aly. It’s lucky that you elder cuz I would have dated you anyway, the elder part just caters to my fantasy 😛 ” Seriously, you were a mad guy…But you know what, every single friend of mine knew about you 🙂 And honestly, all the ‘hang out with someone your age, leave him for us’ looks from your fellow female batchmates who liked/had crush on you (that was a huuuuge group I must say) amused me to no end 😛

Remember how Joey told Rachel that their friendship was so strong that even love couldn’t come between them. That was us Soaham. Nothing could come between the insanely strong friendship we had…not even us or our confused feelings. You were my perfect mix of Joey, Chandler and Ross. There were so many things I wanted to ask you, I don’t know what to do with those lingering questions now. You know how I can’t leave questions hanging midway and irritated you till I got the answers. Who will I annoy now? You left behind too many unanswered questions. Forget the questions, there are a million things I wanted to tell you. Things you would have loved to hear. I’ll still tell them to you every once in a while. Be patient and hear me out ok.

I was reminded of the time when you called me up totally freaked out about getting stuck on the top floor of a mall because the escalator was under maintenance and you didn’t realize that there could be stairs. See, these were the things that still make me laugh. You did outrageous things and wanted to tell me about it, no matter how ridiculous or embarrassing they were. A lot of ‘don’t tell that to anyone please, just keep it between us’ moments. Don’t worry, they’ll be safe. We were our 3am friends…or any am/pm friends because we called each other to update each other about everything we did in each other’s absence. The texts kept on coming and we made sure we knew what was going on in each other’s life, even though we couldn’t meet in the last couple of years!

Don’t mind if I still expect ‘Dude you got to listen what happened the other day’, ‘whatever happened to our travel plans man, plan karte hai jaldi’, ‘are you dating anyone’, ‘dude watch this show/match/movie right now!’, ‘I have a crush on this girl, you HAVE to know about her’, ‘dude, I dude you way more than I dude the guys’ messages from you. At some level I’ll still be expecting them. Sorry about that. I’ll never get over your loss man. I hate that we lost touch in between which coincided with some pretty shitty times that you had to face and that I couldn’t be there the same way you were there for me. But I’m glad that when we last spoke, you were happy. Sleep deprived, exhausted, but happy. I’m so glad that our last conversation was a happy one.

Yes our friendship was punctuated by occasional fights, arguments, timeouts which at one point almost led to its demise, but I’m glad we got through that and went back to being the way we were. You gave me a lifetime of memories Soaham and I’ll always cherish them, but it’s really unfair that you left without a warning. I thought we had a deal! We were supposed to share stories for many many mannnny years to come ya. Don’t worry, I’ll still hold up my end of the deal. Remember I was supposed to nag you about one stupid thing the entire life, you were prepared for it but were always looking for a way out. This wasn’t the way out man.

I never told you but you were one of those very few people who really got me, understood me really well, knew exactly the right things to say at the right times and were one of those few who managed to get under my skin and managed to get away with it unscathed, leaving behind a smile. Your laugh will always stay with me, it was one of your best attributes you know. I never told you that. I also never told you that one of the reasons I got interested in movies, pursued media and writing was because of you. You were totally unaware of that but you are one of many reasons why I’m happy doing what I do today. Because in your own way you pushed me, inspired me to do it.

There are certain things you wanted me to do, one thing in particular. I’ll do that Soaham. For you,  because you sincerely wished that for me. That’s the least I can do to celebrate your memory. I just wished you were here it when it happened. You gave me a reality check every once in a while and you became a voice of reason on many occasions. ‘Not the negatives aly, take in just the positive ones ok’ Alright, I’ll do that. You were this eclectic mix of hopeless-filmy-Shahrukh Khan loving-romantic guy who believed in fate at times, but also a stoic believer in reality, physics and facts. You went from being this smart guy who can hold a serious and ridiculously intelligent conversation with anyone on any topic under the sun to a goofy guy who did silly things just for fun cuz ‘sometimes you need to enjoy without bringing your brain into it!” How you maintained life between those two extremes is beyond awesome. God I miss you so much! I’ll never come to terms with your loss. I’m sure there are ton of other friends who feel the same. You left behind a massive void that nobody can fill. But am glad you were a part of our lives, regardless of how long you were in it.

I’m sad that we never got through the Bangalore plan, I’m sad that we never had that backpacking trip we were planning post July because ‘there’s still a long time for that Aly’, am sad that you did the Gokarna trip without telling me because that was the plan remember – ‘We have to do Gokarna together’, am sad that we could never hang out together in the one place we loved the most, am sad we’ll never judge each other’s dating life sadistically, am sad for the numerous ‘I soo wanna tell Soaham about this’ instances that will come up and I won’t be do anything about it. I’m really really sad and it’ll never go away. Never.

I’m pretty sure you are busy trying to get your fix of Floyd and Tarantino right now. Just know one thing, you always made me smile in your presence and you will continue to do so even in your absence. And that’s the best thing someone can do for any person. I’ll always love you for that. I know you will check up on me from time to time but try not to get laughter fits or go mad facepalming looking at me ok. You loved doing that anyway

Hereon, I’ll try to move on with the very first memory of you being a goofy junior introducing himself excitedly and asking for my phone number to the very last memory of a wiser man giving me advice on how I should approach certain things in life…and with the help of every single memory in between. You were one of my closest buds and no person can ever take your place. You rubbed off on me in many ways which I realized while writing this. Wish you knew that, wish you knew what you meant to me. I’ll stumble through grief and pain of your loss every once in a while, will get knocked down but don’t worry I’ll get back up…just like you would want me to. I’ll take comfort in the fact that you managed to squeeze in so much life in the finite time you had, that you actually lived life to the fullest, in a much better way that any of us did. Soaham people have been telling me that you are in a better place, I don’t know about that but I do know that wherever you are, you will make it a better, laughter-filled place. Because that’s your thing. You did that here, I guess it’s someone else’s turn now to have you for themselves.

We never said bye to each other before. I’m not going to say that now. Our time together was like one long conversation with breaks of varying time lengths in between. This time, it is an indefinite break. You loved challenging me, and I must say this is going to be a tough one. I’ll see you on the other side buddy.

Be good….take care

(P.S: Did I ever tell you that I almost told many ‘Soham’s that their spelling is wrong! 😛 Effect of your constant ‘It’s Soaham with an A’ dialogue)